Part 2 - Where will I go when I die?
Though the believer has heaven to look forward to (as we saw in the blog post on May 31, 2014), what of the unbeliever? What of the person who has rejected the Father, God, said "no" to the Son, Jesus, and refused the invitation of the Holy Spirit? Where does that soul/spirit/personality/essence go? It does not wander around on earth. It does not go to be with Jesus whom it rejected. It does not get a second chance in a holding cell called purgatory, waiting to get prayed out, paid out, or baptized out.
Most non-believers don't like the answer. Some believers don't like the answer, because it is harsh and doesn't provide a "feel-good" experience of a lost soul going "into the light." Whether it goes to a holding cell (in the Greek, "hades") or into the grave or other place where its dead body is, it remains dead until the final judgment. (Remember, everyone is appointed to die once, "and after this the judgment"—Hebrews 9: 27).
After the spirits of believers are all reunited with glorified bodies in whatever rank or place God has for them, the unbelieving dead will be raised up for that final judgment. We read about this in Revelation 20: 12-15. The Apostle John is speaking prophetically there, as he is viewing a vision of that time to come: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged everyone according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This suggests that those whose names are not in the book of life (i.e., who have not received Jesus as Savior) will be judged according to their works—not a judgment for salvation but a judgment as to position in the lake of fire.
This is what Jesus spoke of in Mark 9: 44: "Where their worm doesn't die, and the fire is not quenched." This condition of physically lasting for ever in a state of decomposition and burning was portrayed realistically in the movie Event Horizon (1998).
Although this sounds harsh and unloving to some, one must consider what God has done to keep people from that place of judgment, which was originally designed for the devil and the fallen angels (Matthew 25: 41). The Apostle Paul states that "God exhibited His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" – Romans 5: 8. Think about that. It is as Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [to die for sinful humanity], that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" – John 3:16.
God does not say, "Clean yourself up. Get holy. Then you'll be saved." He says, "Though you are sinful, hurting and hurtful, dirty, and lost, I love you and have provided a way out for you. All you have to do is accept it by believing that my Son, Jesus, took your sin to the grave and that He arose, alive and new, so that you could have that new life, that eternal life. Your name will be written in the book of life, and it will not be erased."
And, like the Rocky Mountains hidden from view (blog post "Truth or Deception," May 24, 2014), this truth is true whether people believe it or not. The invitation is to find out now rather than on that final judgment day.
******* You will be either one of those "whosoever believes" or one of those "whosoever are not written in the book of life." Your choice. Please make the right one. *******
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